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Championing Diversity and Equity in STEM

Dr. Joyce Yen believes that everyone in STEM should have the opportunity to be who they want to be.
Championing Diversity and Equity in STEM

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Dr. Joyce Yen has been an advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in STEM since she entered academia. She focuses on creating a sense of belonging for STEM faculty. Her commitment has earned her various awards, including the 2021 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM).

Dr. Joyce Yen headshot
Dr. Joyce Yen

In the world of academia, the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging cannot be overstated. Dr. Joyce Yen, the Director of the University of Washington (UW) ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change, has been a staunch advocate for these values since she entered the field.

Joyce’s journey began at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), where she received a B.S. in mathematics with honors and highest distinction. She also holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan.

Since joining UW ADVANCE in 2003, Joyce has supported and mentored hundreds of STEM faculty, particularly those early in their careers. As director, she works to foster connections and career development, instill agency and self-efficacy, and respond to the unique needs of her mentees ― all designed to create a sense of belonging in academia.

“[My work is about] building spaces where people can gain access to skills and resources, just be who they want to be in science and engineering, and be successful in the ways that they want to be successful.”

Joyce has been the principal investigator or co-investigator on many proposals that have resulted in over $8 million in funding to advance women faculty in science, engineering, and mathematics; address faculty professional development; and diversify science and engineering fields. Beyond this, she has facilitated numerous workshops, retreats, and trainings focused on diversity, bias, and more, and has also worked with science philanthropy organizations to support their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

This work, along with many other mentoring experiences, led Joyce to be recognized by many, including the 2021 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). The awards are the nation’s highest honors for mentors who work with underrepresented groups in STEM.

Joyce Yen accepting an award

“Awards like this encourage everyone in the STEM community to recognize our role in and to do our part to create a culture of belonging in STEM where everyone is seen, supported, and celebrated and to make equity and inclusion foundational to STEM.”

Joyce’s other accolades include the 2004 UNL Outstanding Young Alumni Award, 2012 UW David B. Thorud Leadership Award, and 2017 Women in Engineering ProActive Network’s Inclusive Culture and Equity Award. 

In this short interview, Joyce shares what her work is all about. Her words of advice to others in STEM? 

“Even without being a specialist in your field, you can still help people be who they want to be.”

If you know an exceptional STEM mentor like Joyce, consider nominating them for PAESMEM at Nominations close Jan. 1, 2024.


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